Intuitive eating: an anti-dieting approach
In our previous article “Why give up diets?” “, we explored the impact of diets on the body and their failure in the long term. In this article, we’ll explore our anti-dieting approach that combines elements of several techniques, including intuitive eating and mindful eating.
Whether you’ve given up on diets altogether or are just curious or just curious if there’s a less disappointing/depressing alternative to diets, this article is for you!
Food intuition is innate
Believe it or not, no one actually invented intuitive eating. In fact, we are all born with it! And yes, humans are basically intuitive eaters. Think of a baby for example. Babies make it clear to us that they have needs, including hunger when they cry. They also know exactly when they are no longer hungry. Indeed, they will simply refuse to eat by turning their heads away. We do not contradict a baby on his hunger or his satiety of course! Why then as adults do we trust someone else to tell us how much/what/when to eat (diets) more than the sensations of our own body, just like infants? Are our bodies less trustworthy as we grow?
Why do we lose the ability to listen to our body?
To understand how to move towards an anti-diet diet, we must first understand why we have lost this basic food intuition.
« Finish your plate or else you won’t have dessert! »
« Eat your vegetables, because there are starving children in the world! »
« You have to eat more if you want to grow strong! »
Sound familiar to your ears? It is also for most of my clients who remember these promises/threats often heard during their childhood.
These messages, and many others conveyed by society about what we should and should not eat, lead us to believe that we cannot trust our own signals about what food choices to make. We no longer trust our level of hunger or when satiety arrives. We therefore learn to rely on the judgment of others, starting with our parents, then eventually diets. However, this skill is still well anchored inside each of us, waiting to be exploited for the benefit of our well-being!
The Anti-Diet Approach: Striking a Balance
The goal of the anti-diet approach is to relearn how to listen to the signals that the body sends us. Hunger and satiety of course, but also our food cravings and preferences, without the guilt that is often present when dieting.
In fact, it is important to understand that all of our food decisions are made in three main spheres; the physiological, the emotional and the rational.
This sphere represents listening to signals of hunger and satiety, but also listening to our desires and our senses. The latter, such as the snack, can give us a lot of information. Indeed, the taste of food changes gradually between the first bite and the following ones, losing its intensity, which can tell us when we are satisfied. Test it, you will see!
Eating for pleasure is super important! Eating brings pleasure and comfort and it is completely normal. Without the pleasure of eating, we would have a lot less chance of surviving as a species! On the other hand, when this sphere takes up all the space and we constantly “eat our emotions”, it becomes problematic.
It’s all very well to listen to your body, but unfortunately it’s not always possible! Sometimes we have a meeting scheduled for dinner time and we have to eat before hunger to avoid being hungry during the meeting. In this modern world, it is not always possible to be intuitive, so one must learn to include a certain amount of foresight!
On the other hand, we know that we are too much in the rational sphere when we constantly fall into thoughts of the type “We must eat…” or “We must not eat…” or in the fact of counting calories.
In the anti-diet approach, we learn to find the balance between these three spheres.
Why Intuitive Eating?
Our needs change every day, so it is not a diet or an inflexible mathematical formula that can predict our needs.
Anti-diet eating takes longer to master than dieting, but it’s a positive change in our habits over the long term.
By learning to listen to our body with kindness, we learn to give it exactly what it needs to maintain or improve our health.
Food stops taking up all the space in our lives and in our thoughts and eating becomes easy, without judgment and above all without guilt!
Aim for natural weight
Diets are appealing because they promise rapid weight loss in addition to letting us believe that our new weight on the scale will be maintained over the long term. On the other hand, research unfortunately shows us something else, that is to say a regain of weight in the following five years.
Don’t you think that if one of these diets really worked in the long term, as some followers loudly claim, we would already know it and above all, everyone could manipulate their weight as they see fit?
With the anti-diet approach, the focus is more on achieving well-being and health first and foremost rather than on weight. You will acquire a new way of life. Ultimately, your body will decide where it feels good and it will achieve weight balance naturally and effortlessly if you listen to it. In fact, when we have a healthy relationship with food, it is easier to reach our natural weight and maintain it over the long term.
Would you like to relearn how to trust your body to nourish it? Do you want to get rid of the guilt of eating or the feeling of losing control around your favorite foods? I totally understand you!
Relearning to trust your body to know how to eat can however seem like a gigantic mountain to conquer! As experts, we are here to help you! Our nutritionists can help you better understand your usual eating habits. In this way, you will be able to tend towards a more intuitive and flexible relationship to your diet.
At LauGau Nutrition, our goal is that you never feel the need to turn to a restrictive diet again! Are you ready?
Danya Beauregard, Nutritionist, Dt.P., RD